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Category: Books

In Scotland

When I was eight, we went to live in Scotland, just for a year — my dad did a swap with a Scottish teacher. She lived in our house and did his job and we lived in her house and he took her classes. We lived in this house in a pretty and historical small village.

For me, it was a magical move. For a start, I’d never lived in a two story house — in Australia back then most houses (except for inner city terrace houses) were single story.  I’d read all these lovely English stories where people had attics, but I’d never had one or even seen one, and this house not only had an attic, it was reached by a “secret” stairway through a cupboard door. So exciting. And from an angled window set into the attic ceiling, you could look out over the rooftops and see an ancient Pictish tower.

We arrived in the heart of winter and the big garden was all covered in snow — again, something magical for me, though the snow was frozen and packed too hard to make a snowman. But when the snow eventually started to melt, I couldn’t believe that the poor frozen plants under the snow could come back to life again, but they did. It was my very own “secret garden” experience and I’ve never forgotten it.

Do you know the Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett? It’s a Victorian-era story of a spoiled, disagreeable child, Mary Lennox, who was born in colonial India, and when orphaned, had to start life again in very different circumstances in England. She meets her neurotic crippled cousin and a wholesome country boy, and together they discover and restore a secret garden, and in doing so, heal themselves. I loved it as a child.

Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote a number of books for children. I was a real bookworm as a kid — nothing has changed there — and I learned quite young to remember author’s names, and that if I liked one book by an author, I was likely to enjoy their other books as well. 

My other favorite of her books was The Little Princess. Again it was about a child who started life in colonial India, but though she was indulged and pampered, she was a sweetie. When she’s orphaned her life changes dramatically — she goes from being a rich girl in an exclusive girls’ boarding school, to being an unregarded drudge. Lovely story. I might have to read them both again. (Note, the link for the Little Princess takes you to a kindle file with both of these stories.)

When the hero arrives

I love the moment in a story when the hero arrives. When I’m writing it, I sometimes have a clear idea of what the hero looks like, and other times I find a photo on line that hits the spot. Often it’s not the physical appearance that is my hero, but something else that strikes me, a tone, an expression, a feeling that the image gives me.

In MARRY IN SECRET, the hero, Thomas appears in a dramatic stop-the-wedding moment.

Here’s a short excerpt — and here’s the image I thought was quite Thomas-ish. You can see that it’s not an exact description of this image of Viggo Mortensen—no broken nose, a beard, but not a really heavy one, and so on  — but it’s an evocative image and it suggested the feeling of my Thomas to me.
What do you think?

The stranger stood in stark contrast to the smoothly groomed and elegant congregation. He was tall and gaunt-looking, but his shoulders were broad—a laborer’s shoulders. His clothes were ill-fitting, coarse, the trousers ragged and patched in places. He wore no coat. His shirt was too flimsy for the season and his shoes were of laced canvas, dirty and with visible holes.

If he knew he was grossly out of place in this, the most fashionable church in London, interrupting the most fashionable wedding of the season, he showed no sign, no self-consciousness.

He was heavily bearded. Thick hair rioted past his shoulders, wild and sunbleached. The face above the beard—what she could see of it—was lean and deeply tanned, the skin stretched tight over prominent cheekbones. His nose looked as if it had been broken at least once. The tattered shirt sleeves revealed tanned, powerful-looking muscles.

 

Finalist!

I’m delighted to announce that my book Marry In Scandal is a finalist in Romance Writers of Australia’s Romance Book of the Year (RuBY) — the historical romance section.

This is Lily’s story and was a bit of a book of the heart. You can read more about the story here , as well as read an excerpt.

 

 

 

 

 

The other finalists in other categories are here, and I’m delighted to see several of my friends’ books.

And don’t forget that this book Marry in Scandal, plus Marry In Haste and Marry In Secret (out 30 July) are all in a #giveaway at the moment.

If you live in the USA enter the sweepstake here.

If you live outside the USA —anywhere in the world — email me through the contact form on my website and I’ll enter you in my own private draw.